There’s something about a 3D aerial combat game that is just so strangely compelling to me. Whether it’s the on-rails style of Lylat Wars or Panzer Dragoon, or the more open combat of Sky Rogue or Stellar Assault; I just find them so immensely satisfying. It’s a shame then that there aren’t that many available on the Switch – particularly those more open dogfighting titles.

In steps the 32 bit stylings of Skycadia, promising a light-hearted flying adventure as you gun down nefarious Sky Pirates collecting bounties.

I’m in.

Many thanks to Studio Nisse for the review code.

…and that’s really all the story there is to the game. Skycadia is plagued with Sky Pirates and there are bounties available for those fighter pilots who can gun them down. 

When the game launched on Steam, it played in a more arcade-like manner with each level having you play out and collect bounties for taking down targets as the game gets gradually more difficult. This new Switch release is still effectively the same (heck, it even includes that Arcade Mode), although this time including a more structured format that makes up the story mode of the game.

In essence, you’ll choose your starting pilot Captain Sanders and default weapon and then take to the skies over each world as you gun down the enemies above each location until you run out of enemies to destroy. Money earned can net you new pilots and weapons, but the core gameplay is the same. Move with the left stick, control the yaw with the right, shoot, and use your thrusters for some extra speed. All rather simple stuff that takes seconds to get accustomed to.


Unfortunately, that simplicity is also the game’s downfall. With only one weapon and real defensive manoeuvres, you’re left to just fly around popping shots and moving around a lot in order to stay alive. There’s no super weapons, no somersaults, or anything else you may have seen elsewhere – things are as basic as they come here. Even the boost is only really useful for faster traversal. The unlockable weapons are a nice touch, although the ones you get are actually worse than your starting weapon; shotgun damage is far too weak at any kind of range to do any real damage, and the charge gun takes far too long to warm up, meaning that both of these offer limited functionality. It’s unfortunate as it does lead to the combat feeling a little samey after a while.

All of this is compounded by the Sky Pirate AI being shockingly bad. Most enemies will home in on you once you get into range (so much so that many will actually crash into you), making things extremely hectic. There’s not a huge variety on offer either, with fighters and frighteningly efficient spawn-ships making up the bulk of them. There’s no real strategy for dealing with most of your foes, so you’ll spend most of your time hunting down the spawners and then clearing our the rest while trying your best to stay alive.

…or at least that would be the strategy if the enemies weren’t so suicidally dumb. After clearing out the spawners, you can take out the remaining foes by simply flying low to the ground and letting them destroy themselves. It’s cheap, but as the difficulty cranks up to intense levels, it also feels somewhat necessary if you want to succeed.

It’s a shame too, as visually the game is very charming. The level of detail on the ship in third person may not be the most impressive (although you should be playing in first person!), but the environments are all beautiful in their low poly visual style and there’s a lot of charm to the presentation. Even the gameplay, despite its simplicity, is also fun to dip into for some light arcade fun – but the unpolished nature of the combat and enemy AI makes the high price point a hard sell.


There’s a solid foundation here for a fun dogfighting game, but the simplistic mechanics combined with the incredibly dumb (and cheap!) AI means that repetition sets in fast. Skycadia is still the one of the best offerings of the genre on the Switch, but it’s probably worth waiting for a deep sale before nose diving into this one.